‘Tis the season to place your gifts under the tree with care, shop for the stylish guy in your life, and bundle up accordingly against a chilly winter — that being said, it’s also the perfect time to translate a little holiday fun to your bar cart and beer fridge. While there’s nothing wrong with reaching for your favorite IPA (or perhaps for a light, crisp lager to counterbalance too many Christmas cookies), we’re big advocates for shifting your imbibing as the holiday season progresses. Specifically, there’s quite literally no better time than right now to enjoy one of the best Christmas beers.
Christmas beers are a true delight to drink, and put forth the best attributes of craft beer for your consumption. That is to say, they’re flavorful without being overpowering, they’re perfectly appropriate for the season’s weather (in this case, cold and snowy), and they’re guaranteed to please your palette in a way a more ordinary beer might not. Many of these beers also have a long lineage and much-loved recipes — another way to add a fun tradition to your holidays.
The best Christmas beers also act as a welcome gift for your craft beer-obsessed host or in-law, and they often add some enjoyment to the season. These are beers to be enjoyed around a roaring fire with good company, so take your time getting to know the best beers for the holiday season.
Shiner Holiday Cheer
Although we’re never opposed to knocking back an ice-cold Shiner Bock with some tasty BBQ, the great thing about the best Christmas beers is that most breweries (yes, even Shiner) take a stab at changing things up from time to time. Take Shiner Holiday Cheer, made in the Dunkelweizen style with uniquely Shiner ingredients like Texas peaches and pecans. The result is a holiday beer that’s not too heavy, packed with just the right amount of complementary flavor.
Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale
San Francisco-based Anchor has been a craft beer pioneer since Fritz Maytag first turned his dreams into reality decades ago — and that innovation extends through to the present day, with classics like the original Anchor Steam Beer and of course, yearly iterations of the Anchor Christmas Ale. Each recipe is different — that goes for 45 years running — as is the label design. Each pays homage to the holiday season and the true joys of craft beer, and this year’s iteration features rich notes of toasted caramel and coffee for good measure. Talk about a delightful holiday beer.
Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA
Among craft beer purveyors who broke ground in terms of brewing some of the best Christmas beers, Sierra Nevada is absolutely worthy of praise (and a toast, at that). The Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA has been brewed since 1981, after all, and it’s been a groundbreaking take on the holiday beer and the IPA ever since. We think it might be better than ever this year, but it sticks with a tried-and-true recipe, one featuring rich Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops for a change of pace among the best Christmas beers.
Breckenridge Christmas Ale
When it comes to Christmas beers, it’s tough to argue against a style that hits the right mix of ingredients dead-on — that’s the case with the Breckenridge Christmas Ale, a nicely balanced take on the holiday beer that delivers everything you’d expect. What Breckenridge has done here is delivered their take on the classic strong ale, with roasted malts and Chinook & Mt. Hood hops.
Bronx Brewery Jingle Jangle Christmas Ale
With a name like that, it’s only fitting that this beer makes our list of the best Christmas beers. And NYC beer-goers are particularly in luck given that this beer’s coming out of The Bronx. Aged using a unique process in Amburana wood, it adds just a little something else to a copper ale that’s rich and smooth to begin with. It’s part of the brewery’s Up-and-Comer series, featuring artwork from Bronx artist Alex Rivera, too. It’s the ultimate way to celebrate winter in NYC — or anywhere, for that matter.
Hardywood Kentucky Christmas Morning Barrel Aged Stout
As if the Gingerbread Stout brewed by Hardywood wasn’t enough to please your palette this Christmas, the brewery has gone a step further — notably, the Hardwood Kentucky Christmas Morning gets its character from a months-long aging process in Kentucky bourbon barrels. We’ll drink to that.
There’s nothing wrong with reaching for a classic winter beer when it comes time to stock your fridge with the best Christmas beers — and the Deschutes Jubelale hits all the right notes, from the fun and festive name to the ingredients used in delivering this holiday-centric brew. The Jubleale features a blend of five hops, to go along with rich roasted barley and pale malts to give it extra character and warmth. For long winter evenings and holiday parties, the Jubelale is the perfect seasonal sipper.
Abita Office Party
It’s the time for fun at home and … at work? Well, if you’re attending an office party and want to keep things fun but not too over-the-top fun, then you’d do well to steer clear of the spiked punch and instead sip on the rich and well-crafted Office Party from Abita. Made with pale, caramel and chocolate malts, to go along with Willamette hops, this beer really takes its cues from the cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and cocoa nibs that are added into the recipe.
Harpoon Brewery Nana’s Nightcap
There comes a time during the holiday season when you can’t quite do anything but lounge by the fire, throw on some football and of course, break into a rich, roasted, supremely flavorful porter. For all those times (and we know they’re approaching soon), the Harpoon Brewery Nana’s Nightcap is the way to go, delivering flavor inspired by oatmeal cookies. It’s originally a homebrew creation from Harpoon employee-owner Lauren McGuire for the brewery’s annual competition — what’s not to love about that?
Samuel Adams Spiced Wheat Bock Winter Lager
If you’re a fan of beers that instantly call to mind the beauty (and yes, chilly temperatures) of the season, then perhaps you’re well-acquainted with the Samuel Adams Winter Lager, a long-running holiday favorite sure to become a staple in any well-stocked beer fridge this season. This wheat bock delivers rich spiced notes, and should pair nicely with heartier winter dishes at your next holiday gathering.
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